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Part-Time Working Mothers Have Healthier Children


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

Mothers who work part-time are raising much healthier kids when compared to mothers who stay at home or those who have a full-time job, a new Australian study has found.

Researchers from the University of New England in New South Wales Tlooked at 4,500 preschool children and discovered that the offspring of mothers who worked part-time consumed less junk food, watched about an hour less television, spent more time exercising, watched less junk food advertising, and were less likely to be overweight or obese.

For the study purposes, the investigators carried out face-to-face interviews with mothers and measured their child's or children's height and weight when they were between 4 and 5 years old, and again two years later at ages between 6 and 7 years old.

The study authors assume that the surprising findings may be driven by part-time mothers being more conscientious on the days they are not working and are at home to care for their kids. This could explain why they restrict television watching and eating unhealthy food more than other moms do, at the same time ensuring that their kids spend more time exercising and being physically active.

Jan Nicholson, co-author of the study, an associate professor and principal research fellow at Melbourne's Murdoch Children's Research Institute, said that when women work part-time, there is obviously something about the way they run the house, and the way parents are taking care of their children that is protective. He said: "Although employment reduces the time parents spend at home, mothers go to considerable lengths to insulate time with their children. They reschedule activities, sleep less and allocate less time to personal care and leisure to ensure that time with children is protected."

The study has also revealed that women who have full-time jobs tend to have unhealthier kids. The reason why mothers who do not work and stay at home have overweight and less healthy kids, despite having more time to encourage healthy lifestyle, is not fully understood, and scientists say that more research is needed to be done in order to closer examine household dynamics.

Childhood obesity is a serious health problem that is gaining more and more importance in almost every country worldwide. Obesity in children is a major concern as it may result in obesity during adulthood and is associated with health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, respiratory problems and also problems with sleep. Obesity is also linked to depressive moods and low self-esteem.

The study "Do Working Mothers Raise Couch Potato Kids?" is scheduled for publishing in the international journal Social Science and Medicine next month.

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